*I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
I have to admit, I was afraid I wasn’t going to like this book because, while I absolutely LOVED The Heartless City, Philomena was actually my least favorite character. Something about her just didn’t click with me in that book. But the more I read in this one, the more things I found that I liked about her, the more ways I found that I related to her, and the more she grew on me until Philomena herself became my favorite thing about the book.
For one thing, she was confident, rather than being one of those self-deprecating, low self-esteem characters. Yeah, she had some insecurities because everyone does, but she didn’t let them destroy her opinion of herself.
For another thing, she was a fighter. Even in the worst of situations, she kept trying to figure out a plan, kept thinking, and kept fighting back both physically and emotionally.
She also stood up for herself, stood up for her rights as a woman, was accepting of other people, felt that she should get to make her own decisions about her body (like when to have sex and to use condoms even though they were immoral and illegal), and was generally just a great advocate for women and people in general.
There were also lots of really great messages in this book about sexism, classism, body image, sexual orientation, etc. My favorite message though was the one about how girls do not owe guys simply because the guys are nice and do things for them, and that any guy who expects this and gets angry about it is not the “nice” guy he thinks he is. This is, in my opinion, the basis of the entire “friendzone” issue and something I feel very strongly about, so I loved that it was included.
Another great thing about this book was how much the setting came to life. I mean, I had no prior knowledge of what 1904 New York was like, so I can’t attest to the accuracy of it, but I still managed to see it and feel completely immersed in it.
Last but not least, I liked how healthy the relationship between Philomena and Jamie was. Yeah, they fought sometimes, but every couple does. What was important was that they always apologized, talked it out, made things right afterward, and respected each other.
I had one issue with the plot though, which was that it took a while for the conflict to really come up. Things were hinted at and kind of mysterious, but it wasn’t until around 70% that the main thing was revealed. However it never dragged, so I can’t complain too much.
So overall, the setting really came to life for me, Philomena was a great main character, I loved the sense of feminism and acceptance that permeated the story, and I really enjoyed this book!
*Note: This is part of a series, but it is a complete story about these main characters that works as a standalone. However I still recommend you read the first one simply because it’s amazing.*
Fans of Book 1 in Andrea Berthot's Gold and Gaslight Chronicles. Anyone who like historical settings, healthy relationships, and strong-willed, confident female characters.